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Celebrating Israel’s Century-Long Special Relationship with Australia

Oct. 31 2017

Today is the centenary of the battle of Beersheba, in which the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, serving under Britain’s General Edmund Allenby, took the city from Ottoman forces. Isi Leibler describes the battle, which he sees as the beginning of the consistently warm relations between Canberra and Jerusalem:

The battle of Beersheba . . . represented Australia’s first outstanding achievement as a fighting force, predating its [famed] Western-front victories of 1918. With the disaster at Gallipoli [two years earlier], where over 8,000 Australians needlessly lost their lives, many initially predicted that this attempt represented yet another example of military incompetence and cynical willingness to sacrifice soldiers. Beersheba was heavily fortified, and the battle was a last-ditch effort to defeat the Ottoman empire in the region.

Late on the afternoon of October 31, following an order by their commander, Sir Harry Chauvel, 800 Australian light horsemen galloped over two kilometers at top speed, directly into machine-gun fire, before dismounting and engaging in hand-to-hand combat. They overcame the Turkish defenders in less than an hour. Thirty Australian horsemen were killed and 36 wounded. Over 500 Turks were killed and 1,500 surrendered. It was a turning point in Allenby’s struggle to defeat the Ottomans in Palestine. . . .

Australia has constantly maintained a positive bipartisan relationship with Israel. . . . The Jewish community can claim much of the credit for this. Australian community leaders have not hesitated to confront their government on the rare occasions they considered it was applying double standards against Israel. The all-encompassing pro-Israel orientation of the Jewish community is undoubtedly a major factor contributing to the pro-Israel orientation of the mainstream political parties.

However, dark clouds are emanating from sectors of the Australian Labor party, whose former foreign minister Bob Carr has become a spokesman for extremist Arab causes. . . .

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Australia, Edmund Allenby, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, World War I

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen